Skip to comments.Feast of the Entrance into the Temple of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos [Orthodox/Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 11/20/2007 4:27:12 PM PST by Kolokotronis
The Feast of the Entrance into the Temple of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on November 21 each year. The Feast commemorates when as a young child, the Virgin Mary entered the Temple in Jerusalem.
The birth and early life of the Virgin Mary is not recorded in the Gospels or other books of the New Testament, however this information can be found in a work dating from the second century known as the Book of James or Protevangelion.
When Mary was three years old, Joachim and Anna decided that the time had come to fulfill their promise and to offer her to the Lord. Joachim gathered the young girls of the neighborhood to form an escort, and he made them go in front of Mary, carrying torches. Captivated by the torches, the young child followed joyfully to the Temple, not once looking back at her parents nor weeping as she was parted from them.
The holy Virgin ran toward the Temple, overtaking her attendant maidens and threw herself into the arms of the High Priest Zacharias, who was waiting for her at the gate of the Temple with the elders. Zacharias blessed her saying, "It is in you that He has glorified your name in every generation. It is in you that He will reveal the Redemption that He has prepared for His people in the last days."
Then, Zacharias brought the child into the Holy of Holiesa place where only the High Priest was permitted to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. He placed her on the steps of the altar, and the grace of the Lord descended upon her. She arose and expressed her joy in a dance as wonder seized all who saw this happen.
The Virgin Mary dwelt in the Temple for nine years until, reaching an age for marriage, she was taken from the Temple by the priests and elders and entrusted to Joseph as the guardian of her virginity.
The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple signifies her total dedication to God and her readiness for her future vocation as the Mother of the Incarnate Lord. This is a feast of anticipation. As honor is shown to Mary, the faithful are called to look forward to the Incarnation of Christ, celebrated in a little more than a month by the Feast of the Nativity on December 25.
Icon of the Feast
The icon of the feast tells the story of Mary's entry into the Temple. The High Priest, Zacharias (1), is in his priestly robes standing on the step of the Temple. His arms are outstretched, ready to greet and receive the Virgin. Mary is shown as a small child, standing before Zacharias with her arms reaching up to him (2).
1. The High Priest, Zacharias receives the Theotokos at the steps of the Temple (detail). 2. The Theotokos as a small child being received by the High Priest, Zacharias (detail).
In some icons the young maidens (3) who served as her escort are depicted standing behind her. Also, we see her parents, Joachim and Anna (4), offering their child to God and His divine service.
3. Young maidens gathered by Joachim to form an escort for the Theotokos (detail). 4. Joachim and Anna, parents of the Theotokos (detail).
In the upper center portion of the icon, the Virgin is seated on the steps of the Holy of Holies. An angel is there, attending to the one chosen by God to bring the Savior into the world. 5. An Angel of the Lord attends to the Theotokos in the Holy of Holies (detail).
Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos
The Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the Feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers is conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast. Scripture readings for the Feast are the following: At Vespers: Exodus 40:1-5, 9-10, 16, 34-35; I Kings 7:51, 8:1, 3-4, 6-7, 9-11; Ezekiel 43:2744:4. At the Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56. At the Divine Liturgy: Hebrews 9:1-7; Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28.
Hymns of the Feast
Apolytikion (Fourth Tone) Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."
Kontakion (Fourth Tone) Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.
Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos Orthodox/Catholic Caucus ping (see why we don’t need any Co-Redemptrix notions! ;))
Thank you for posting this. The 21st also happens to be my daughter’s birthday.
A wonderful feast, one day before Thanksgiving Day. In the western tradition, it was said that Mary’s parent’s after her dedication at the Jewish Temple, took her home to educate her.
Reading A sermon of St Augustine
By faith she believed; by faith, conceived
Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Saviour was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Fathers will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christs disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.
Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power. and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard Gods word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept Gods truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Marys mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.
The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent the most eminent member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine our head is God.
Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfils the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.
Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? Of Mother Church, I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.
Those words of +Augustine enrich the final verse of this traditional Western Thanksgiving hymn:
For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifeth holy hands above
Offering up on ev'ry shore
Her pure sacrifice of love:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise!
Eucharist in all its fullness.
“In the western tradition, it was said that Marys parents after her dedication at the Jewish Temple, took her home to educate her.”
I never knew that. Do you know the origin of that tradition?
You are very welcome!
Thank-you for that sermon by Blessed Augustine. It is supremely Orthodox. Lines like these:
“...did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Fathers will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christs disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.”
are why we overlook other, ahem, “odd” notions and call him a “Blessed Father”.
Almighty God, source of every blessing, your generous goodness comes to us anew every day. By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, the blessed Theotokos acknowledged God's goodness when she sang "my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior", she gave thanks when her song continued "God the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name"; and she offered herself in willing obedience when she said "be it done to me according to thy word".
The obedience of Joachim and Anna led to Mary's obedience, which led to the obedience of the Word made flesh, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
This morning at my parish, at Divine Liturgy, the young girls processed into the church with candles. After Divine Liturgy, they had a formal high tea with our priest.
Very good, Father. I look forward to the full version! :)
Last evening I was speaking with our priest who remarked on the astonishing Orthodoxy of so many Lutherans.
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